PCFR: From rare earths to urban Mexico to India must deal with expansionist China

(Passing on this note from Hannah Hazelton, PCFR chairperson.)


To members and friends of the Providence Committee on Foreign Relations (thepcfr.org; pcfremail@gmail.com)

Just added: On April 25th Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma of the Indian Navy will present a talk titled "China Moves Westward". 

Wednesday, January 17th

China's Monopoly of Rare Earth Elements, with Victoria Bruce

American technological prowess used to be unrivaled. But because of globalization, and with the blessing of the U.S. government, once proprietary materials, components and technologies are increasingly commercialized outside the U.S. Nowhere is this more dangerous than in China's monopoly of rare earth elements --materials that are essential for many modern consumer goods, gadgets and weapons systems.

Bruce writes “the tsunami of science and tech companies rolling into China,” is well-known, but free market ideology has blinded us to the political consequences of allowing the Chinese to achieve international hegemony in global markets.

Victoria Bruce is an author with a background in science. Her previous books are No Apparent Danger (HarperCollins 2001), Hostage Nation (Knopf 2010) and Sellout (Bloomsbury Publishing 2017). She holds a master's degree in geology from the University of California, Riverside, where she lived on a volcano and researched the chemistry of volcanic hazards on Mount Rainer in Washington State. She has directed and produced four documentary films, earning the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism.


Wednesday, February 21st

Socio-economic Effects of Palm Oil, with Dan Stechary

6:00, The Hope Club, 6 Benevolent Street, Providence

Palm oil is tainted by environmental destruction and poor working conditions but global production is soaring. As the highest-yielding vegetable oil crop, global production is soaring, and also the cause widespread deforestation over the last four decades. In 2004, a group of environmental non-profits and palm oil companies joined together to set up the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The roundtable sets out eight principles, citing 163 criteria, which are designed to prevent the worst aspects of palm oil cultivation: illegal deforestation, chemical pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, destruction of biodiversity, water loss, poor employment conditions etc. With nearly 3,600 members, it is the largest multi-stakeholder initiative of its kind.

Dan Strechary is the U.S. Representative of the RSPO. Based in New York, he is now responsible for outreach and engagement activities to members and stakeholder in the U.S., as well as formalizing the RSPO’s presence in this important market.



Thursday, March 8th

Veronica Herrera on Water and Politics: Clientelism and Reform in Urban Mexico

Veronica Herrera is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley and her B.A. from Swarthmore College. She studies comparative urban and subnational politics and environmental policymaking, with a focus on Latin America. She is the author of Water and Politics: Clientelism and Reform in Urban Mexico (University of Michigan Press, 2017). At the University of Connecticut, Professor Herrera teaches courses on Latin American politics, water and environmental politics, urban politics and policymaking, and qualitative research methods

April 25th

Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma: China Moves Westward

Nirmal Kumar Verma is a retired Indian Navy admiral who served as the Chief of the Naval Staff of Indian Navy from 2009 to 2012. In November 2012, he was appointed as the Indian High Commissioner to Canada.

Date TBD:

Development in Post-Communist and Post-Conflict Countries, with Richard Farkas

Richard Farkas has been teaching at DePaul University for over 40 years. He holds an honorary degree from Corvinus University and has lectured in Russia, Poland, Hungary, and Croatia. His research compares strategies for political and economic development in post-Communist and post-conflict countries. Professor Farkas has consulted for some of the largest corporations in the U.S. and has appeared frequently on U.S. and international media.